Help available for loved ones showing signs of instability - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Help available for loved ones showing signs of mental instability

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -

The tragedy in Connecticut has a lot of people talking about mental illness, and what role it played in the shootings. In Georgia there are steps you can take to get a loved one help, should they show signs of instability.

Much has been said about Adam Lanza's state of mind when he forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and gunned down 20 children and six adults.

"People are making conjectures about the role of mental illness that was never diagnosed in him in the horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown," said Dr. Raymond Kotwicki, chief medical officer of Skyland Trail, a private mental health facility in Atlanta.

Kotwicki says in Georgia, you have to prove that someone is a threat to others or themselves before having them hospitalized against their will.

"So somebody who is like Mr. Lanza, who never explicitly said anything about his mood or about his being suicidal or homicidal, wouldn't be somebody who would, in Georgia, be a candidate for involuntarily going to a psychiatric treatment facility," said Kotwicki.

To have someone involuntarily hospitalized in Georgia you have to go to the probate court in the county where they live and sign what's called a lay affidavit.

 "A lot of people feel like they don't have recourse, when indeed they do," said Sgt. Adrion Bell of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office.

Bell says Dekalb County sheriff's deputies serve hundreds of court orders to apprehend for evaluation each year.

"In 2010 we had 258 that we served. In 2011, it was 299, and thus far this year it's 270," Bell said.

To find out more about having a loved oneinvoluntarily hospitalized, contact the probate court in your county.

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